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A Book of Interest

A Universe from Nothing
by Lawrence M. Krauss
Free Press Division of Simon & Schuster, New York, NY
202 pages (2012)

Although Lawrence Krauss began his career as a particle physicist, studying the very small, he soon switched to cosmology to study the very BIG -- the universe.  He has authored over 300 scientific publications and nine books.  To many, he is "a rare scientific public intellectual."  Validation of this is evident in his having written The Physics of Star Trek and also Beyond Star Trek.

According to Krauss, the purpose of his latest book is "to provide an informed picture of the universe as we understand it and to describe the theoretical speculations that currently are driving physics forward as we scientists attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff in our observations and theories."

As one would expect, the author addresses the evolution of scientific thinking that has led to our present understanding (albeit less than totally clear) of how the universe started, how it currently is, and how it will be.  One is again struck by, among other things, the vast distances and amount of time involved -- on a cosmic scale.

Note:  Because of an interest in science, I attended Krauss' recent public lecture, based this book, at Auburn University.  As a result, I read the book, which was written for a general audience.  If interested, you can find earlier versions of the lecture on YouTube.  But be forewarned; Krauss is not a theist.

Submitted by David Newton

Comprehensive Two-and-one-half day Wilderness Medicine Course Offered by North Alabama Sierra Club

North Alabama Sierra Club is offering a comprehensive two and one half day course July 6-8 that will teach you the wilderness medicine skills you need to handle backcountry emergencies. This course is recommended for those that lead backpacks or even remote day hikes where EMS is two hours away.

From the Patient Assessment System through traumatic, medical, and environmental emergencies, you'll experience a wide variety of topics designed to prepare you to act if an accident occurs. This is a 20 hour course over two days and one half days. The course begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday with Adult CPR/AED certification and at 8:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and runs through 5:00 p.m. You will have both classroom time and hands on practice scenarios.

Practice scenarios may take place outside in various weather conditions; be prepared for inclement weather. Participants will have to pass both a written and a practical test.

Red Cross CPR certification is a prerequisite for this course. Successful completion results in a American Red Cross Wilderness & Remote First Aid certification valid for two years. The cost is $80 for Sierra Club members which includes both CPR/AED and WFA certification or for applicants possessing a current Adult CPR/AED the cost is $60 and training will be Saturday and Sunday.

For non Sierra Club members the cost is $100 or $80 if CPR certified. The additional $20 may be applied toward Sierra Club membership if so desired. Proof of certification must be provided in advance. Lunch will be provided onsite each day. A non refundable deposit of $25 payable to the NA Sierra Club guarantees you a slot. Final payment is due two weeks in advance. Please send payment to Tom Burley, 11112 Memorial Parkway M 3, Huntsville, AL 35810. For further information contact Tom Burley at or at 256 883-4267.

National Sierra Club Supports Forever Wild Fight

A grant of $8,600 in c4 funds has been approved by National Sierra Club for the Alabama Chapter's work in support of the Forever Wild measure on the Nov. 2012 Alabama ballot. Stay tuned for additional information about Forever Wild in the coming months! Special thanks to long-time Sierra Supporter David Newton for his work in putting this project together and working with National Sierra Club to explain the importance of Forever Wild!

Celebrating Our Second Annual "Chill Out on the Mountain!"

Spend Saturday, June 9th, with the Sierra Club of North Alabama at Monte Sano State Park. So far, in the works, an Early Byrd strenuous hike with Charlie, Sandy's 'I don't want to get out of bed' moderate hike and Doug's afternoon wildflower ID. For those who prefer to lounge by our meeting spot, the Park's Small Pavilion, enjoy the camaraderie as Chef Steve prepares his tantalizing chili.
To cover the cost of food, which includes regular and veggie chili, sides, dessert, and assorted drinks, for age 7 years plus, there will be a non-refundable fee of $6.00 per person. 6 years and under eat for free. A reservation is required this year for lunch and funds are due on or before June 4. More details will be available after May 1 at 1-800-296-8577 and in the May newsletter. We will also keep you posted on our Face Book page. A torrential rain storm cancels :(

- Sandy Kiplinger, North Alabama Sierra Club


May 2012

Forever Wild funding could be diverted

Sen. Shadrack McGill, R-Scottsboro introduced a constitutional amendment last month that would divert Forever Wild funding to the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and to the Education Trust Fund to fund vocational education in high schools should citizens vote down Forever Wild renewal or should the Forever Wild renewal pass but get less “yes” votes than McGill’s proposed constitutional amendment. McGill was one of a handful of senators who filibustered legislation last year that would have renewed Forever Wild by legislative action instead of the statewide vote that will take place November 6.

Conservation Alabama is monitoring this legislation and its potential effects on the campaign to renew Forever Wild. (from Conservation Alabama)

Scrap Tire Fund monies threatened

A House committee passed a compromise amendment last week that will divert money from the Scrap Tire Fund to the cash-strapped General Fund for only two years, instead of from next year forward as originally proposed.

The Scrap Tire Commission was created in 2003 after a study showed that more than five million scrap tires were produced annually in Alabama, another four to five million scrap tires were being shipped to Alabama annually, and 14 to 20 million scrap tires were either stockpiled or disposed of illegally. A $1 fee is assessed per tire sold in the state to support the program to clean up stockpiles, better enforce scrap tire disposal and cut down on illegal dumps, and create recycling opportunities for the scrap tires. ADEM, on behalf of the Scrap Tire Commission, has removed millions of scrap tires from more than 50 sites throughout the state.

Conservation Alabama Policy Director Jeff Martin is a member of the Scrap Tire Commission.

(from Conservation Alabama)

Incentives for alternative fuel vehicles on the table

Energy legislation had the most activity last week and will be prominent again this week in the legislature.

Companion bills introduced by Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery and Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster to provide incentives for the purchase of vehicles or the installation of refueling equipment for vehicles that are powered by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, or electricity. The bill also promotes biodiesel and ethanol production in the state. While it is late in the session for newly introduced bills to get much traction, the Senate version of this bill will be in committee on Wednesday. (read the full article on Conservation Alabama's blog.)

Join the Georgia Sierra Club on a trip to Yosemite

Sammy Padgett, a trip leader with the Georgia Sierra Club Chapter sent this announcement to Alabama recently: "We have a trip to Yosemite over the July 4th holiday. For a week long backpacking trip. We have all the permits needed for 10 people. So far we have 5 people signed-up. Im reaching out to local Chapers to try and fill remaining spots. Here is the link to our outings page with all the info.

North Alabama Celebrates Earth Day

The Earth Day Celebration at Hayes Nature Preserve was a huge success. The SC booth was popular and soon surrounded by a sea of green SC bags as we promoted our BYOB campaign. It was a great opportunity to raise awareness of our Group, its goals, and activities. A special thanks to Charlotte, who set up the booth and did educational outreach, and to all the members who stopped by. (from the North Alabama Sierra Club)

Protect Forever Wild

On November 6, 2012, a major election will take place in Alabama. Of course there is the all-important presidential election, but Alabama voters will also be voting on the 20-year extension for the Forever Wild program. The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is gearing up to help make sure this passes. Alabama Needs Forever Wild and the Sierra Club's members NEED to head to the polls and vote!

Since Forever Wild was first approved 20 years ago (by an overwhelming 83 percent of voters), Forever Wild has protected thousands of acres for the benefit of Alabamians. Some of the state's most visited natural areas, such as the Walls of Jericho in north Alabama and the Mobile Tensaw Delta in south Alabama, are open to the public because of Forever Wild. Many Sierra Club outings involve hikes or other activities on Forever Wild lands.

The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is a member of the Protect Forever Wild Coalition, dedicated to the protection and reauthorization of Forever Wild funding. This coalition of conservation, environmental, hunting and angling, outdoor recreation, and business entities recognizes Forever Wild’s success in securing public lands for outdoor recreation for our citizens and protecting the ecological integrity of Alabama’s landscape. We are working to insure that Forever Wild is reauthorized for another 20 years.

You can help by publicizing the benefits of Forever Wild, and by voting in favor of Forever Wild reauthorization in the 2012 election.

Additional information is available at

What Your Sierra Club Outdoor Leader Would Like You to Know

Guidelines for enjoyable Sierra Club outings:

  1. Arrive a few minutes early at the designated meeting place so we can leave on time.
  2. If we're going to travel, arrive with a full and not empty gas tank.
  3. Consider ride-sharing. It's not only cheaper but lessens our carbon footprint.
  4. In order to participate on our outing, you will need to sign a Liability Waiver.
  5. When you sign-in, under emergency number, please write in the name and phone of the person you want contacted by emergency responders or a hospital, not 911
  6. The Outdoor Leader is in charge of the outing and is the decision maker when it comes to proceeding, changing or turning back due to trail/river conditions, weather or other circumstances. He/she wants you back safely.
  7. We go out and stay together as a group. There is an early sign-out in the unusual circumstance that you don't want to stay with our group.
  8. We are concerned for your health and safety, and those of the group. Know your capabilities so you can have a pleasurable outing. We write our description and rate the difficulty of the outing, but contact the Outings Leader for more information to help you decide if you should participate.
  9. Bring enough water/food for the outing, dress appropriately for the type of activity/weather, and bring the right shoes/boots and required gear. Again, contact us if you need more information.
  10. Keep your dog on a short leash. Not all hikers or wildlife are dog lovers.
  11. And at the end of the outing, thank the leader who has just volunteered his or her entire day (or evening).
    - Sandy Kiplinger

National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day

May is National Bike Month and the 9th Annual Bike to Work Day will have a new spin this year! Bike from Work will be held in the evening of Thursday, May 10 and include an organized bike ride to promote using alternative transportation for commuting to and from work. Hosted by CommuteSmart, an initiative of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, participants will begin and end their ride at Avondale Brewery. The evening will also include a family-friendly celebration after the ride that will promote safe cycling in Birmingham.


It's the pipeline that just won't die. TransCanada is now floating a new route for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Here's National Sierra Club's take on that plan.


Sierra Club members and organizers joined a rally in Biloxi, Mississippi, Friday to mark the two year anniversary of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Sierra Club Mississippi's Louie Miller spoke at the rally and landed this great media hit.

What Should the Sierra Club Do on the Natural Gas Issue?

We're looking for your best ideas on what the Club could do on the Natural Gas issue. To this end, we've launched a Web site for submitting these ideas.

It's quite simple to use:

1. Go to
2. Enter your idea, or have a look around at existing ideas.
3. Once you enter an idea, you'll be asked to sign in - you can do this with either an email address or using your Facebook or Google (Sierra Club addresses work) credentials as a single-sign-on solution. Your ideas won't appear on these social networks - the buttons are only there to make login easier.
4. As a signed-in user, you can comment on existing ideas, or vote on them if you agree. This gives everyone a better idea of what the community feels is important.
5. You can have 10 votes or comments per month. This restriction will hopefully constrain ideas so that the best are elicited.
6. Note: This forum is 'open'. This is the only way we can accommodate the entire community.

Water management bill introduced

For more than 20 years, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have been engaged in a bitter battle over the declining abundance of water the three states share.

Now, as the legal fight is on the Supreme Court of the United States’ doorstep, Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes proposes a bill that would finally develop a comprehensive water management plan and drought management strategies for the state. Groups such as the Alabama Rivers Alliance have been advocating for comprehensive water planning for 15 years.

Wednesday, the Water Policy and Management Joint Legislative Committee will meet to discuss the legislation. (from Conservation Alabama)

New Birding Trail Set to Launch May 12

Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, one of 8 trails around Alabama, will hold the first in a series of kick-offs on May 12, 2012, on International Migratory Bird Day.

Scheduled Activities:

10:30 am Bird Watching for Beginners-Renee Morrison, JSU Field Schools
11:00 am Nature Observation Hike- Teje Sult, JSU Field Schools
11:30 am Make & Take Hummingbird Feeders Children’s Craft -Jill Brooks, JSU Field Schools

1:00 pm CEREMONY --Pete Conroy, EPIC Director
Nisa Miranda, AHBT Project Manager
Anne Miller, AHBT Project Leader
Light Refreshments
2:00 pm Bird of Prey Show – Renee Morrison, JSU Field Schools

On-going Learning Stations:
JSU Field Schools Wild about Birds Station (Migration Game)-Teje Sult & Mandy Pearson, JSU Field Schools
National Park Service Migratory Birds & Information Station and Bird Walks-Larry Beane, NPS
Alabama Ornithology Society How Big Are Birds? Station -Shirley Farrell, AOS
Audubon Society Flying Wild Station-Helena Uber Wamble , BAS
Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce- Thereasa Hulgan, Director of Tourism

Tentative Date Set for Alabama Sierra Club 2012 Fall Retreat

Stay tuned for more details in the months to come!

Event: Alabama Sierra Club’s 2012 Fall Retreat
Date: November 9, 10, 11
Place: Beckwith Camp and Conference Center
10400 Beckwith Lane
Fairhope, AL 36532-6008

Sierra Club Outings

Spring is Here!! Take a great hike! Or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues! Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll down the mountain! more>>>